The moment you complete your final exams at college, you may feel tempted to take the summer off from learning, planning, or doing anything remotely structured. But instead of hanging out in your parents’ basement all summer, why not complete this college bucket list instead? Doing these seven things will ensure you spend your downtime productively — and have fun.
Use this college student summer checklist as a map for planning out your June, July, and August until the next semester rolls around. When you return to school in the fall, you’ll be rested, refreshed, and may even have a new perspective on life.
Get an Internship
Whether you know what you want to do after college or you haven’t even decided on a major yet, pursuing an internship provides a valuable chance to check out what the “real world” is like. If you enjoy the internship, it can help you confirm you’re on the right path. If you don’t, it allows you to cross a potential job off your list. Either way, you make progress on deciding your post-college fate.
Some internships last the entire summer, while others may be just a couple of months. If you find an unpaid opportunity, make sure you can supplement it with a part-time job — or find out if your employer provides stipends for transportation to the internship.
Take a Road Trip With Friends
Before you start your internship, take some time to relax and have fun — plan a road trip with your friends. Perhaps you can do it on the way home for the summer and hit your college friends’ hometowns, helping you learn more about your pals. Or maybe you can plan a trip with your buddies from high school to reacquaint yourselves after spending so much time apart.
Consider calling on other friends to save on hotel costs, or look into youth hostels as a low-priced alternative. Be sure to return at least a couple days before your internship starts so you can get back into a healthy sleeping routine.
Shadow Someone Outside Your Field
Even if you’re doing an internship, there’s still room to check out other careers, too. Arrange a one-day shadow of a person in a field you find fascinating. For example, you may have an internship at a law firm, but part of you yearns for the creative life. Shadow a gallery curator just to satisfy yourself and ensure you’re making the right decision by pursuing law school. Some people who might be willing to let you shadow them include:
- Your parents’ friends
- High school or college employees
- Your friends’ parents
Enter a Foreign Exchange Program
No list of college student summer activities would be complete without embracing some big ideas — one is to learn about another culture. You can enter a summer program that lasts just a couple of weeks to get many of the same benefits you receive from a semester abroad. These options are often more economical than going away for an entire term, too. In return, you’ll receive:
- The chance to practice foreign language skills
- Familiarity with other cultures at a time when the business world is becoming more globalized
- Exposure to new ideas and practices to expand your worldview and help you think more creatively
Learn a New Hobby
College is a time for expanding your horizons. Adding a new hobby can give you an outlet to relax in the midst of stressful midterms or applications to grad school. Find an activity you love to do this summer, then bring it back to school with you. Some possibilities include:
- Training for a road race
- Learning a new language
Reach Out to Former Classmates
Networking can help you get a job after college. Have you lost touch with any friends who graduated a year or two ago? Reestablish that connection by sending a quick text or email, or making contact on social media. Not only will you enjoy hearing what they’ve been up to, but you could open doors down the road with a new professional contact.
Organize Your Finances
College students have lots of expenses, such as food, rent, books, lab equipment, and more — do you have the means to take care of it all? At the start of the summer, examine your financial situation and look for ways to shave costs and earn money. Check out our budgeting worksheet if you need help getting started.
Part of this exercise should include examining your debt and credit cards. Make sure you’re not charging too much on your credit cards and that you’ve been paying off your balance each month, which helps avoid interest payments. This will also help to ensure you have a decent credit score when you leave college and try to buy a home or car.
Our members enjoy many benefits that can help them keep more money in their wallets. We call it Money Back Banking. See our guidelines to learn how to join and check out more ways to save money on our WalletWorks page.